Erick Nelson’s “The Landlord,” printmaking, and how he made it to Jackson Hole
Erick Nelson ended up in Jackson Hole the way most of us did—by finding a place to live and never leaving. Hailing from Massachusetts, he remembers learning to snowboard when he was 13 at Blue Hills Ski Area, just outside of Boston. The 300 vertical feet of riding that Blue Hills had to offer was enough to get him hooked on the sport, the lifestyle, and perhaps most importantly, a new form of artistic inspiration. Landing in Jackson in 2012 was a serendipitous culmination of chance, childhood experiences, and a love of the natural environment.
Nelson was formally trained at Colorado College as a printmaker, and he recalls an early impatience with making art. Although he has been drawing and creating since he was able to hold a crayon, the nature of printmaking is all about process and patience as the artist creates a matrix that will eventually end up as the print itself. One of the things that draws Nelson to printmaking is that it’s one of the most tactile iterations of 2D art. It was described to him once as “sculptural draftsmanship.” Woodblock relief prints, his go-to medium, are perfect for someone who once struggled to slow down in his work. These days, he’s working in digital mediums as well. While there are certainly differences between the two ways of making art, he is learning to embrace all of the unique things that digital illustration can offer and exploring them to fit his style.
As many artists living in Jackson do, Nelson draws much of his inspiration from the mountains. Nelson’s work confirms his belief that beauty can be found anywhere you look. He also credits some of his professors at Colorado College, both in and out of the printmaking discipline, as influential in his work today. They taught him the value of art for art’s sake, which has stuck with him more than some of his formal training ever did. Lately, Nelson has been particularly taken and inspired by sundogs (rainbow light patterns) that form over the snow as the winter sunrises.Nelson’s cover art for Issue Sixteen of Jackson Hole Snowboarder Magazine explores a couple of different themes. Entitled “The Landlord,” the piece intends to touch on the housing issues our community faces and also the deeper meaning of ownership and land. The way Nelson sees it, we’re just renting our time in the mountains, on the rivers, on the planet itself. His imagery discusses our yearning for knowledge of the mountains and also their mysteries. The artwork was created digitally, but Nelson used the same reductive process he would in a woodcut print for a similar, organic effect.